Joanna about. The speaker’s point of view of love

Joanna HuynhDr. CaneenEnglish 1315-00912 December 2017 Though I Am Young and Cannot Tell         “Though I Am Young and Cannot Tell” is a poem written by English playwright, Ben Jonson during 1640. The poem was featured in a play that he wrote called, The Sad Shepherd. It can be classified in the genre of a lyrical because in the play, the poem is being sung by a character named, Karolin. Lyrical poems are known to be musical and they generally evoke emotions. When read aloud, “Though I Am Young and Cannot Tell”, touches on topics of love and death, and has a melody that brings upon feelings of curiosity and discovery.         Ben Jonson wrote the play in a meter called iambic tetrameter, which is when a line of poetry consists of four iambic feet, and follows a pattern of a stressed syllable, preceded by an unstressed syllable. There are two octaves in the poem, and all of the lines, with the exception of line twelve and thirteen, contain eight syllables. The author uses a technique called accentual-syllabic verse to create a flow for the poem. Accentual-syllabic verse is when there is a fixed number of syllables as well as stresses. Almost every line in the poem has an equal number of syllables as well as stresses. The poem consists of four pairs of couplets per stanza. The end rhyme allows the poem to connect by forcing emphasis on certain words. The couplets and rhyme scheme are components that allows the poem to sound expressive when read and, links the two lines together.         The speaker of the poem is someone who is young and curious. As a young shepherd, the character Karolin sings the lyrical in order to convey his unknowingness with death and love. In the beginning of the poem, he states, “I am young, and cannot tell/ Either what Death or Love is well” (1-2). The poems’ first lines initiate a hint at what the poem will be talking about. The speaker’s point of view of love and death is based on what he has heard of, rather than his own experiences because he does not have such experiences. The importance of the speaker’s point of view is that it allows the reader to understand what is taking place in the poem and to also interpret it in the way that the speaker does. In “Though I Am Young and Cannot Tell”, the speaker’s role is to explain the connection between love and death, and analyze  the relationship that they have to one another and to life.         The poem starts off with the speaker claiming that he does not know much about love and death. But as the poem progresses, the reader is able to see how the speaker’s curiosity results in him comparing and contrasting the two different subjects. The poem mainly focuses on the similarities of the effects of love and death. The poem explains that both love and death cause wounds, but the author then goes on to explain that love ultimately leads to the result of death. On the surface, we see that love and death can be easily tied together. One is described as heat, and the other is described as cold, and together, they have an effect that is “extreme to the touch” (8). Although they seem like they are complete opposites, through literary devices and specific choices of words, we can see that love and death are parallel.The poem does not have a physical setting, but one could say that the thoughts are occurring in the speaker’s mind. The author uses personification multiple times throughout the poem in order to connect the reader with the concept of love and death. “Yet I have heard they both bear darts/ And both do aim at human hearts” (3-4). When the author says this, he means that love and death inflict pain upon humans. Although he uses the same personification for both love and death, the phrase of “bearing darts… at human hearts” can be interpreted differently in relation to love and death. Perhaps the pain that comes with love is when a person is heartbroken and is unable to trust, the pain that results is like a pang to the chest, as though darts are piercing it. The dart for death could mean something more physical, for instance, a stab to the chest. Although love and death are similarly personified, the situations can be interpreted separately because”Love wounds with heat, as death with cold” (6), is another example of personification. Not only is the personification important, the author’s choice of words are a significant detail to the main point of the poem. The author associates love with heat, and death with cold because heat and cold are opposites, which underlines that love and death are majorly different from each other. Love is associated with heat because being supported by a companion brings warmth to the person, while death is paired with the  cold feeling of loss and emptiness. The line in the poem says that love harms a person by using heat, this could mean that with warmth and comfort, comes anger and hot temper, which eventually leads to other emotions, including pain. Whereas the feeling of death is cold because life is leaving the person. Although they are interpreted differently, they can be arguably the same because the outcome is quite similar.At the end of the poem, the speaker states that “So Love’s inflamed shaft or brand/ May kill as soon as Death’s cold hand” (13-14). Whenever the speaker says this, he is not saying that love literally holds a weapon, but more so that it is a weapon, and that it holds a strong power. The implication that can be gained from these two lines is that love can be as fatal and cruel as death.         Love and death are two things that seem to be on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but “Though I Am Young and Cannot Tell” takes an alternative perspective and makes the revelation that they are actually closely related. They both have an equal potential to hurt human beings because they both wield a lot of power.  Just like the heat and the cold, despite whether one may feel better than the other, too much of it can end up with the same result.In the end, love is just as harmless as death.

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